Recently, I watched Transformers: Age of Extinction. I know, I know, I have no one to blame but myself for whatever atrocity I am about to lay before you. Transformers AoE committed many crimes, not the least of which was its running time, clocking in at three interminable, insufferable hours. However, that is not what I wish to discuss here.

I feel I have a high tolerance for the fanciful and implausible, even the ridiculous. In fact, I enjoy these things. I am completely at ease with the idea of alien beings who can transmogrify into trucks and cars, and for some reason only trucks and cars, and not, I don’t know, windmills or grain threshers or elephants. I found the idea of a “Japanese” Autobot who had a vaguely Asian accent and a samurai sword (when not in vehicle form) weird and somewhat offensive—he’s an alien! Talk about cultural appropriation—but I was willing to roll with it. I was even willing to (grudgingly) accept Dinobots. Why would an evolved species choose to transform into such lumbering beasts? For what purpose? It’s not like they had to hide from anyone—megafauna and insects don’t care if you’re a Transformer. And even supposing it was useful for them to take dinosaur form, why would you ever be anything but a pterodactyl or one of the other flying ones? Why would you choose to be a tiny-armed T-Rex or a stubby-legged Stegosaurus over something that can fly?

But I digress.

A speculative world must conform to some kind of internal logic; moreover, the actions of people (and machines, and other beings) must make sense. I don’t mean that characters can’t be flawed or illogical or unpredictable. But we should be able to understand their flaws or failings—as Poirot would say, the psychology must be right. Thus, I feel strongly that a Transformer in possession of good foot jets must generally be in want of an occasion to use them and, when the going gets tough, he (no, not she) would be unlikely to forget that such a tool was at his disposal.

Perhaps I am getting ahead of myself. In Transformers AoE, the Autobots (the good Transformers) now find themselves hunted by Man (and occasionally Woman, but mostly Man—no wait, always Man), due to a terrible misunderstanding but also some highly suspect commercial interests. Man is also constructing his own version of the Autobots, to be controlled by Him for His purposes, but strangely these new Transformers don’t seem as noble as the leader of the Autobots, Optimus Prime; in fact it seems they want to destroy him. Also some mysterious off-planet dudes with an S&M bondage spaceship have turned up on Earth to drag OP back to whatever infernal planet it was on which he was spawned. So, there are a lot of people and other beings out to get Optimus Prime. He is pursued.

Optimus Prime (in truck form, mostly) therefore weaves in and out through high-speed traffic to evade his pursuers, causing some spectacular accidents though (we trust) no fatalities (he is Good, after all, and not unlike God or maybe even Aslan).

Then the action shifts from the grand old (slightly damaged) US of A to downtown Hong Kong. The Autobots pinch a jet from the off-worlders to get there. Jets get you places faster, time was of the essence and there was an ocean to cross, so pinching it was a no-brainer. Und so weiter, as Kommissar Rex might say, if he was a real German person and not a fictional German dog. 

So why is it, that in the very last moments of the film, Optimus Prime decides to pursue the mysterious off-worlders by activating his FOOT JETS? That’s right, foot jets. You had FOOT JETS all this time? WTF OP, why didn’t you get those babies out earlier? They could have come in handy to avoid general traffic mayhem and to trim at least 45 minutes from the film.

We know perfectly why the foot jets were not activated, of course—it is because the makers of this miserable excuse for a film wanted car chase scenes. Fine—I have nothing against car chases (usually). But you cannot expect us to believe that Optimus Prime is an intelligent, noble and battle-wise being who is also forgetful of his foot jets. Those foot jets made a mockery of our investment in your film. You may as well have just mugged us for our moolah, for all the respect you have shown us—it would have saved time, too.

Thank you for reading. Do not pay money to see Transformers: Age of Extinction.


Not Optimus Prime (sadly). This sea elephant knows his stuff. Silver gelatine photograph by Acme Newspictures, 13 May 1936. Argus Newspaper Collection of Photographs, State Library of Victoria, H2004.100/1087.

Not Optimus Prime (sadly). This sea elephant knows his stuff. Silver gelatine photograph by Acme Newspictures, 13 May 1936. Argus Newspaper Collection of Photographs, State Library of Victoria, H2004.100/1087.

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